Sunday 7 June
Well yesterday was a nice easy one and I arrived refreshed – sort of. Corvallis is a beautiful town so I spent a bit of time looking around – ok so I got lost going to find breakfast. My saviour was a fellow being taken for a walk by a couple of big dogs he was interested in the bike but I think the dogs wanted to pee on it. When I finally found a place for breakfast I had a cup of coffee and and a bagel to prepare me for the ride to Blogdett where I planned to stop for lunch. As I left the shop a bloke dressed like Cat Weasel came over and started to chat, he then started to look solemn and said, ‘I am going to ask you something, and I usually get what I ask for’, (another solemn look), ‘I am gong to ask you to pray with me’. OMG why do I attract these weirdos? To cut is short I explained that I had done most of my praying when I was a kid and the only time I spend on my knees now is when I have a puncture. I explained the 6 years as an altar boy bit and the going to mass 6 days a week thing, patted him on the shoulder and bade him fare well. I was out of there likety split.
There is a covered bridge just out of town at Irish Bend so I head out that way for a look because I have never seen a covered bridge before. Why do they cover them? Perhaps to keep the rain off the river. Anyway the route to the bridge is through the University of Oregon campus which is very spectacular with many old trees and beautiful buldings.
The bridge is no longer a bridge in as much as it no longer spans water; it did once but it has been moved to dry land and has been restored. It is quite wonderful so it was worth the side trip. I ride off through pasture three feet high in which only the tops of the cows are visible. I am sure there are sheep in there somewhere unless cows now speak sheep. Occasionally squirrels scamper across the road and I have seen my first live raccoon.
I reach the Corvallis-Philomath Road and head West to the sea. This is still strange because all my life the coast has been to the East, still this is America and all things are different. Some of you Sand Gropers will disagree but … . I am lulled into believing that this is going to be an easy day because the first 30 k’s is nice and flat but there is a fair bit of traffic. Philomath quickly disappears into my mirror and then I am confronted by THE MOUNTAIN. This climb is a shock to both me and the bike but we soldier on for nearly 5 k’s of grinding the lower gears and finally, reality restored I reach the top – is that snow over there – nope. Suffering from thigh failure and oxygen deprivation I collapse to the road and drink a gallon of water.
At Philomath there is a road tributary and we have picked up more traffic. Most of this is RV’s For those not familiar with an RV it is the result of someone jacking up their house, putting 60 pairs of wheels under it, a tow bar and finally adding a mack truck to the front to haul this lot along the road. There is a never-ending procession of these behemoths and the noise is frightful, makes me wish that I was deaf. When I reach Blogdett after three of these hills and half of the houses in San Francisco on wheels, I am ready for some food and a bottle of valium.
The food comes in the form of some really good home made, southern fried, chicken strips and the valium in the guise of a bottle of Dr Pepper (I think I am getting to like this stuff). As I sit outside on a lovely soft log and think about what time the bus arrives. My bike is a bit of a curiosity and people are constantly stopping to chat. As I sit on my soft log a fellow comes over to talk about the bike and my trip. He is a cyclist, a local and familiar with the roads around her so he is both impressed and astounded that I am riding the highway. He points at a T-junction over the road and tells me that the road is a great cycling route (pronounced raute in these parts). The sign post directs me to a town called Summit so I am not convinced but the Dr Pepper has kicked in and I head off (after sneaking inside and asking the storeowner if I should take the Summit Road) doubting Thomas that I am, still I head up to Summit.
Great choice, the road is a long but gentle slope with a disused railway line snaking in and out of the woods beside me. The surface of the road is like the top of a billiard table and I get up to nearly 70kph till I woos out.
Trees everywhere including ovehead, I am in a tunnel of oak, elm and ash trees. The road is winding and narrow but that is fine I only saw two vehicles in nearly ten miles. Soon I am on a long curvy downhill run hitting 60 kph and a bit slower on the curves. Woo hoooooo! The trailer follows faithfully; I hardly know it is there. Soon I level out for another ten miles or so through gently undulating pasture land dotted with contented cows, many hued sheep and storybook farm houses.
Oops! The bitumen has suddenly disappeared and I am on a very rough gravel road that seems to be pointing more towards the sky at each turn of the pedal. I think I can, I think I can etc until suddenly I cant. The road is just not navigable the back wheel spins in the one spot so I decide that my pride wont be hurt if I get off, actually I had no choice in the end, we simply weren’t going anywhere. What Have I got myself into? Shortly, the only way I could push the bike was – heave – apply breaks – step forward – heave – apply brakes, well I guess you get the picture. This went on for about a mile (that’s 1.6k’s in the new money) until I come to the top. I stop and rest, consume half my daily ration of M&M’s and a bottle of water. I am in deep ‘raccoon doo’ here, if this continues I am going to have to find a flat spot and pitch my tent because the shadows begin to noticeably lengthen.
The road improves on the down side and to my great relief the sealed road reappears, I am on a roll. My reward for struggling up the gravel strewn precipice (expletives deleted) is 42 ks of gentle downhill with the occasional rise to keep the boilers steaming. The three k downhill levels out to a beautiful verdant landscape with massive hills either side and I meander beside a the Siletz River for many miles. The scenery is just so beautiful and I get to talk to the cows and sheep with the occasional short chat with a squirrel. Those little buggers move so fast.
Anvil Farm is a real treat, the farmer is also a steel sculptor and blacksmith of some note and his fences, buildings and yards are works of art. I start to notice how many flowers there are in bloom including Azaleas and Rhododendrons. The Azalea is apparently a member of the Rhodie family and the ones that I see here are native to this part of the US. Watever – there are many shades ranging from bright magenta to white and a hundred different variegated varieties. Perhaps it is a variation of cabin fever but I am now talking to myself here perhaps it is time to head for home.
Silenz is remarkable unremarkable with shabby buildings most without windows but there is a store there, the first since Blodgett many miles ago so I scoff down someting that looks like a chiko roll and tastes even worse but it is fuel. At Toledo I am sucked into the never-ending stream of RV’s and massive utes (pick ups) that I left 4 hours ago on route 20. Whoa, there is yet another hill to climb before I get to Newport so down the gears till I can go no further and I grind my way to the top; I swear that someone has put some bricks into the trailer while I was chatting to myself way back along the road. Just before I enter the Stratospere the road levels out and before me is Newport and the Pacific Ocean, my first view of it since coming to the US.
The town is long bustling like any costal town during a holiday period. It also seems to have ingested a majority of the RV’s that passed me during the day. These things nest in various places and bristle TV and Satellite antennae. The residents sit inside in fully upholstered splendour watching their 60 inch plasma tellies. Ah camping – it must be so good to be close to nature.
After settling in to my motel room I spend two fruitless hours and 6ks of walking looking for a cord for my camera charger until I finally give up and search for food. The time is 11pm and I really don’t hold out much hope but I find a diner just next to the motel and it is still nearly full of happy diners so I claim a seat at the bar. At dinner I begin my affair with clam chowder. This is a totally delicious way to start a meal and just about every place, so I was to discover, has it on the menu at around $3 a cup with crackers or bread. There are a million different hamburgers on the menu but a burger with lashings of Danish Blue cheese is my choice. My choice of sauces is – ketchup, mustard or (would you believe) maple syrup. I pass on the sauce but I do have a Sierra Nevada pale ale and a glass of local Zinfandel to wash the lot down.
106ks and 14oo metres of climbing today so I guess I am a ready for bed. Night!